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Sunday, May 15, 2011

All that with a broken foot!

Cochin Harbor, fishing boats coming in

Emma- our Lady Gaga

Nolan & Becky washing elephants

Chinese Fishing nets

Ice Cream break

Spice shopping on Jew Street

Antique shopping - crazy stuff behind us
I am a little behind on my blog entries, mostly because I have not figured out how to get the pictures uploaded to shutterfly back to my blog!   Back in February we took a short weekend trip to Cochin, Kerala on the Southwestern coast of India.    Cochin is one of the oldest ports in India with St. Thomas the apostle arriving there and starting the Syrian rite of Catholicism there nearly 2000 years ago.    But more recently the Portuguese, Dutch and English taking up shop there as a key spot on the trade routes.   Shopping or more conveniently I found a tremendous deal for two rooms at a Taj Gateway property (very nice hotel chain in India) and flights.    This was our first weekend trip.    When we decided to come to India we had planned to be travel junkies, exploring one corner of India to all the nearby exotic countries.   However, we live in India which means I have a job, the kids have homework, we need to fit in dentist appointments, shopping for sneakers and figuring out how to get regular things done.  Unfortunately that takes time so squeezing in a weekend trip is not as easy as we expected.    We pulled the kids out of school hopped on the hour flight to Cochin and armed with our Lonely Planet South India book, started our journey.   

This was our families first domestic trip which meant figuring out the taxi situation in a new city, navigating a new town and being in a much less cosmopolitan area than Bangalore.    Oh and I forgot to mention, Emma broke her foot horseback riding a few days earlier, so her range of activity was somewhat limited.   She was a trouper.    A walking cast in India is not really meant for dragging on the cement, so we customized a walking shoe out of one of Doug's sandals.   Not a fashion statement but did the job.    I highly recommend the Lonely Planet series for India, each restaurant they recommended in Cochin or surrounding towns was definitely worth it.    We feasted on ocean fish marinated and grilled in banana leaves, a Chinese-Indian fried rice, prawn curry and kingfisher beers.    Since Cochin has long been a desired port and had several ruling cultures - the food is a nice fusion of western and Indian.     

Things we learned on the trip:
- Our family of 5 can fit nicely in an auto-rickshaw.   Becky-Doug-Will with Nolan on my lap and Emma on Doug's lap.  Best use of 30 cents to go three kilometers ever
- The local fisherman still use Chinese fishing nets that have been the same technology since the time of Kubla Khan
- Elephants love to bathe in the local rivers and we were lucky enough to see their morning ritual.  Nolan and I even made into the river to help clean them with coconut shells
- Having two hotel rooms that do not connect make for a much nicer vacation
- Vasco da Gama was buried on Fort Cochin, we visited his grave site
- The oldest synagogue in India is in Fort Cochin and sits on a street called Jew Street, also a wonderful place to get antiques
- You can take a ferry from the mainland out to Fort Cochin for 2 rupees a person (4 cents) but there are not enough life jackets on the ferry for the hordes of people they stuff in the boat
- Emma still remains the most photographed in our family, whether she poses with families, other kids or on occasion single men request a photo with her (which of course I decline), she is our Lady Gaga

All in all, traveling within India as a family taught us that we do really like each other, teenagers can be very helpful to carry the luggage and we cannot wait for the next adventure.

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